How To Pick The Right Specialty As a New Travel Nurse

Travel Nurse Specialties

While travel nursing can differ quite a bit from traditional nursing, a few things still remain the same. One of those commonalities includes choosing a specialty. No matter your interests or priorities, there is something out there for everyone—you just have to do your homework. With that being said, it can be tiresome to navigate the sea of travel nurse specialties without getting swept away.

Fortunately, there are a couple of ways to narrow down your search and find an assignment you really like. Below are a few tips to help you pick the right specialty. For new graduates, you can do this before or after choosing your new travel nursing agency. Whichever method you prefer, we have you covered. 

The Demand

High demand for a given specialty is one factor that may impact your decision to pursue a new specialization. Not all locations need specific travel nurses or require them to stay very long, so keep that in mind while conducting your search. Look into the areas where nursing may be scarce or extra help is required. Natural disasters and crises, nursing shortages and absences, or just places with more significant needs may also influence the high demand for travel nurses.

For more assistance, take a look at these travel nurse specialties. While you look into the different specialties, be sure it is something you’ll enjoy doing and not just doing it for the paycheck.

Become a Float Nurse

As a float nurse, you will be able to experience the workflow and pace of different departments based on staffing needs. Hospital float nurses may be sent to several units within the same building to cover shifts or breaks and support your facility to adhere to the required patient-nurse ratios. If you can snag a travel nurse assignment as a float nurse, observe all you can and ask the staff what they love about their job (and what they find to be the most challenging). Trust your gut and move on to the next if you don’t feel that a particular unit will work for you.

Consider Your Lifestyle

Everyone leads a different life and therefore has varying interests and priorities that are important to them. You could be a parent and want to work with kids—maybe even travel with your own. If you often feel bored or stuck with your day-to-day routine in the same environment, taking on a telemetry or ER travel nurse job could be an ideal change of pace. Your opportunities are endless! To get a better understanding of what nursing specialty could work with your lifestyle, ask yourself a few questions such as:

  • Am I detail-oriented?
  • Do I thrive on adrenaline, constant challenges, and the unexpected?
  • Do I want to work closely with patients in a high-touch role, or would I prefer to be away from the bedside?
  • Do I want to work in a hospital setting or outpatient?
  • Am I calm under pressure?
  • What age group would be best for me? Pediatrics? Adults? Geriatrics?
  • What makes me feel the most fulfilled as a nurse?

Most In Demand Travel Nurse Specialties

Intensive Care Unit (ICU)

ICU nursing is one of the most well-respected travel nurse specialties in the healthcare industry. ICU nurses have to be confident and knowledgeable to work through conditions that are always changing. They are responsible for life-threatening situations, such as patients who have experienced significant surgeries, car accidents, trauma, or organ failure. They also manage day-to-day tasks like patients’ medication or their ventilatory support. 

Emergency Room (ER)

ER nursing is a travel nurse specialty that’s more and more in demand all the time, and it requires nurses who are quick on their feet. These nurses will encounter patients who could be in critical condition and have life-threatening injuries. If you thrive in a fast-paced and high-energy environment, then this is the specialty for you. 


Med surge nursing is the top travel nurse speciality in the nation. Med surge nursing is shorthand for medical-surgical nursing. Med surge nurses provide critical care to patients who are recovering from surgery or who are dealing with a medical condition that requires ongoing treatment. They may work in a hospital setting, a long-term care facility, or a clinic.

The great thing about travel nursing is that you can switch to another specialty at any time. It’s a fantastic way to gain new experiences, advance your career, and break from a humdrum routine.

Already know your specialty? Come look at our job board for available travel nurse jobs!

learn more